SEC Coaching Search Update, 11.27.12

Troy Babbitt-US PRESSWIRE

The latest news in the searches to replace four SEC head coaches.

KENTUCKY

Things are not going so well in Mitch Barnhart's quest to replace Joker Phillips, it sounds like:

UK is in a tough spot in trying to find a new head coach. Sure, things were bad there this year. However injuries at the quarterback spot were a huge part of it, and Phillips only got three years. It's true that he was a continuation of the previous regime so the falloff looks worse, but if you're going to go that route with it, then he should get some of the credit for the previous regime's success as offensive coordinator too. If the leadership is that impatient at a place where football is a distant second to basketball, then that's going to scare some candidates away.

Kyle Tucker is also reporting that SJSU head coach Mike MacIntyre is "on UK's radar" along with another, unspecified coach.

UPDATE: Two other pretty good Kentucky sources are hearing that Stoops is still in play and that MacIntyre is indeed a top candidate.

ARKANSAS

Out in message board land, there have been a surprisingly large number of people convinced that Boise State's Chris Petersen is in some way a candidate for the job in Fayetteville. I wouldn't question the notion that Jeff Long would like to hire him, but if Petersen is leaving Boise, it's not going to be for Arkansas.

Yesterday, Petersen addressed the rumors linking himself to Arkansas and other schools collectively, dismissing them all as just rumors. I will say this: Petersen is the perfect smokescreen for an AD conducting a search. He's well known, he has an unbelievable winning percentage, and Boise State is always a topic good for generating controversy. Plus, how cool would it be for your school to be the one that finally pried him away from BSU? However, he's also a west coast guy and has turned down big money before. Petersen is just wired differently than most head coaches, and he's not going to jump for a job just because it pays well. His name will, however, distract a fan base while the real business gets done.

Meanwhile, Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com says he's heard that people close to Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian believe Sark to be a candidate for Arkansas. Roussel is not one to throw any old thing against the wall to see if it sticks, but as always with reports like these, it could just be the work of an agent trying to get his guy a new contract. Roussel has previously reported of a link between TCU's Gary Patterson and the vacancy.

AUBURN

AD Jay Jacobs' search committee includes Tiger legends Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan. It does not, unfortunately, include Charles Barkely. That didn't stop the Chuckwagon from offering his advice last night on TNT's Inside the NBA:

If Kenny Smith had Gus Malzahn as his offensive coordinator, I bet he'd win a few games with Cam.

TENNESSEE

Things seem to be fairly quiet on the Tennessee front aside from the predictable and persistent Jon Gruden rumors that feel like wishful thinking as much as anything.

So in lieu of any actual news to report, I'm going to run with a recommendation made by both Wes Rucker and Travis Haney (two of the better Tennessee/SEC beat writers you'll find). About a week apart, they each mentioned that San Francisco 49ers OC Greg Roman might be a good fit in Knoxville. He is Jim Harbaugh's right hand man and was with him at Stanford too. Harbaugh has won fantastically everywhere he's been as a coach, and David Shaw has shown that the system is repeatable and sustainable by other guys besides Harbaugh himself.

A lot of the best systems have found their way into the SEC over the years. Think about just the BCS era for a minute. The Air Raid is the antithesis of the SEC stereotype, yet the first major program to use it was Kentucky. Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier (via Shawn Elliott) brought in spread option variants. Nick Saban's place as a defensive mastermind is unquestioned. At South Carolina, Charlie Strong popularized the 3-3-5 defense, something that Joe Lee Dunn pioneered at places that included Mississippi State. The newest offensive innovation, packaged plays, has come in with Kevin Sumlin. It would make sense for someone to hire Roman to bring in the Deploy Three Tight Ends For Great Justice scheme that is working so well elsewhere.

If Tennessee wants Roman, there will be some competition. Bruce Feldman has reported that he's on the list for places like BC and Cal. There also is the matter that Roman could get an NFL head coaching gig as well.

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